Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thoughts at Christmas: examples of Christian privilege

It's not so easy, sadly.
A friend who was raised as a Hindu in the U.S. shares this list.
If you’re a Christian in the US, these are a bunch of unearned benefits you get that members of other faiths (or non-religious people) do not.

It’s not about shame. It’s about understanding:

1. You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays.

2. Music and television programs pertaining to your religion’s holidays are readily accessible. ...

9. If you are being tried in court, you can assume that the jury of “your peers” will share your faith and not hold that against you in weighing decisions.

10. When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith. ...

20. Your faith can be an aspect of your identity without being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend)

21. You can be polite, gentle, or peaceful, and not be considered an “exception” to those practicing your faith.

22. Fundraising to support congregations of your faith will not be investigated as potentially threatening or terrorist behavior.

23. Construction of spaces of worship will not likely be halted due to your faith.
Follow this link to see nearly 30 more items.

There is however one item I'd quibble with:
14. It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media.
Not so. One of the more painful aspects of being a Christian is listening to others, some even friends, spewing complete nonsense about the implications of that faith. Some of this is harmless ignorance; too much is simply garbage. If more people had any more grounded idea what that first century Jewish religious insurgent was up to, we would need fewer lists like this.


janinsanfran said...

My friend Sarah wrote a comment on this post at FB which seems worth bringing here:

Important to remember. I agree with most, and also agree with your quibble.

A couple of other (small, localized) quibbles - I think here in California we don't swear on the Bible in court--as it should be! That's my memory from jury duty, anyway.

Also, and this is my left coast experience, running around in certain circles, but it is my life. I do think I am the identified "Christian" friend for a fair number of folks in my life. Life here is increasingly unchurched and full of "nones." Though secular, commercial Christmas still reigns.

Another thing is that my kids' fairly PC schools went out of their way to bring in folks to explain minority religious traditions such as Hannukah and Passover, Ramadan, Diwali, but specifically did not provide time to discuss or explain Christian traditions, because they were understood to be dominant and talking about them might be proselytizing. Christmas songs were (rightly, in public school) limited to secular and mostly winter songs. The festival in December was called Winter Fest and featured snowflakes - despite no snow in SF.

^^^ I do believe this is a Left Coast experience though. I have mixed feelings about it. I think Christianity and religion should not be practiced in our public spaces (courts, schools). I also think the assumption that everyone here understands Christianity because it's culturally dominant is increasingly bunk given we are into the second generation of unchurching. Not to mention the huge diversity of Christian expressions around here, from Black Pentecostal to Latin American Catholics and Pentecostals, to liberal mainliners like me.

Hattie said...

It's funny. I grew up mostly ignorant of Christianity beyond the ordinary knowledge that everyone in this country has. We had Christmas pageants of the nativity in school and sang religious and popular carols and songs. My daughter was the Mother Superior in The Sound of Music, and I thought it was amusing if trivial. But since my childhood Christianity has become corrupted and cheapened, and that is my present and personal objection to seeing Christianity and other religions in public schools except as objects of study.

Rain Trueax said...

The problem with teaching Christianity as part of a religious course is what version? What I see and hear predominantly today from the Christian leaders bears little resemblance to the teachings of Christ. It's like the Gandhi quote roughly paraphrased-- I like your Christ but cannot like your Christians who are nothing like him. Who can argue with that and frankly often right or left-- with being judgmental, anything but loving, counting on forgiveness to excuse any misbehavior, and pushing their religious views of culture onto others-- while again ignoring what Christ actually said about culture.

I have Christian friends, know they aren't all that way but the loudest representations are-- like Pat Robertson with his scientific ignorance but eagerness to spout out his views as if they were gospel-- while ignoring the actual gospels or reinterpreting them. I do think Christians don't realize all the privilege they receive versus atheists who are often put down as out to destroy the culture just because they don't consider faith in something unproven or unseen to be a virtue.

When I was in school in the '50s and '60s, religion was not part of the curriculum period. It was in people's private lives and their churches. Schools were for math, science, history, literature, and English.